Waterfront: A Journey around Manhattan in 18 Films

February 27–March 11, 2004

MoMA

Dead End. 1937. USA. Directed by William Wyler

“Every street in New York ends in a river”—so goes the opening line of William Wyler’s Dead End (1937), one of 18 films presented in celebration of Phillip Lopate’s captivating new book, Waterfront: A Journey around Manhattan (Crown, 2004). A lifelong New Yorker, Lopate describes Waterfront as “a mixture of history, guidebook, architectural critique, reportage, personal memoir, literary criticism, nature writing, [and] reverie.” For much of the past, a flâneur could enjoy the great urban spectacle of New York’s waterfront, teeming with stevedores and street urchins, Sunday strollers and fishmongers, dock rats and shipworms, cruisers and sailors on leave, and women of the night. The recent rise of luxury apartment towers and sports complexes has made the waterfront less of a working port or devil’s playground than it once was, but these films capture a New York thrumming with noirish intrigue and romantic fantasy—the New York we still cherish in our collective imagination.

Organized by Joshua Siegel, Assistant Curator, Department of Film and Media.

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